by C. Dale Young

In that old story, the boy is depicted as delicate,
lithe, and beautiful. Ovid had it wrong.
Yes, the boy was beautiful, beautiful enough
to capture a god’s attention, but he was not
delicate. He was anything but delicate,

his muscles toned from working the fields.
Listen to me; the gods are fairly conventional.
A lovely woman is transformed into
an old hag, a too-slow voyeur becomes
the quick stag to be chased and shot through

by a single arrow. So, in the case of this young man,
he must have been strong, anything but delicate
like these flowers. The gods are convincing
when they need to be. Believe me, they are
honey-mouthed and persistent. The boy

had to be strong, but he was not stronger than the gods.
He was seduced; who isn’t seduced by
immortality? In the field, the boy was every bit
the archer as the god. He was just as powerful
with a spear, a slingshot, or a discus.

Ovid writes that Apollo loved the boy,
loved him more than any living thing
on this earth. But we know better.
The gods love only themselves. In the field,
a clearing ringed by trees, the boy did not

try to catch the discus. He was running from it,
running from the god who took pains to aim
so as to slice him clean through with a single shot.
You see, this is not love. A god commanding
spilled blood become delicate blue flowers is not love.

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